You want to redesign your website–great! Improving the user experience and design on your site is always great for SEO, and it’s important that you’re willing to go through changes as your business grows.
However, one of the important considerations as you go through the redesign process is how the things you are doing affects your site’s current SEO ranking, and what you can do to minimize the negative impact it might have.
What Does Google Think About Your URL?
You might want to change your URL to reflect a branding update, or maybe you simply just don’t like the name you chose years ago anymore.
Before you point to that new domain name, though, pause and think for a second: what does Google think of my current URL?
For years now, Google has been crawling and indexing your old URL, along with all the pages that fell under it. If you’ve been making consistent SEO efforts the whole time, chances are you rank pretty well for some of your target keywords. If all you’re doing is changing the URL and keeping the content, you might be thinking, “Why does it matter? The high-ranking content is still there, I’m just changing the name of my site.”
To Google, your URL is your site. Changing the URL is making Google do two things: forget your old URL, and crawl your new one. Googlebot doesn’t know it’s the same site as before–you two are now effectively strangers. If you feel you’ve built up enough equity with Google over the years, think twice before changing the URL.
One of the oldest tricks in the SEO book–link building. These sought-after backlinks are what tells Google that a website has authority, and it can take years to build up a solid book of backlinks.
The last thing you want to do is lose all of them, so how do you best combat that when there’s a high likelihood that your website redesign will bring about changes in URL structure, leading to backlinks no longer working?
The answer: 301 redirects. Be sure to go through all of the backlinks you want to keep, and create a 301 redirect for each link that most closely matches the page that was there.
Give Google The Map
With the structure of your site changing thanks to your awesome new redesign, you’re going to want to lend Google a helping hand. You can do this by immediately submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console. With just a little extra effort on your part, you can tell Google exactly how you want it to crawl your new site, and make the most use out of the allotted crawl budget that Google gives you.
Creating a sitemap is usually done automatically when you have a WordPress site by the Yoast plugin, but there’s plenty of free tools out there to help you create a properly formatted website that is ready to submit to Search Console.
Redesign your website and get it SEO-ready with the professionals at ShoreSite Web Designs! Contact us today to get your whole project done under one roof.